Working in Saudi Arabia is very challenging as well as exciting. Every country has different culture and culture of Saudis or to be more appropriate Arab World is a bit different from western culture. This is the reason, most of the expatriates should understand about the Saudi Traditions at least a little bit before entering to Saudi Arabia. In this article, I will be explaining about the basic Saudi Traditions about which everyone should know so that you don’t act stupidly.
- Warm Handshake: Saudis are very hospitable and they also expect the same from the other person. If you have been living in Saudi Arabia from sometime, you might have noticed that when they meet each other, they exchange series of kisses. Each kiss has a separate meaning and I have already elaborated it in this article. “Types of Kisses in Arab World”. Even if you don’t have manners to kiss, at least you should handshake warmly and firmly. If you handshake with them in a lousy way, it is treated as disrespect to the person with whom you are shaking hand. Never ever use your left hand. If your right hand is dirty or even wet, never ever shake hands with anyone before cleaning it thoroughly. If you are caught in such a situation that you must shake hands, offer your wrist instead.
- Start from Right: If you are entering a room where a group of Saudis are seated, start always from the person on your right hand side and move towards your left anti-clockwise. Do not forget to greet each person with a "Salaam Alaikum" with a slight bow of your head and a genuine smile. It goes down well with your hosts.
- Exchanging Business Cards: If someone gives you his business card, he is expecting the same in return. If you don’t have business card, just offer your excuse for that. While taking business card, never ever keep it in the hip pocket of your pants. It is treated very badly in Arab Culture.
- Never Refuse Traditional Drink (Qahwa): You must be offered traditional drink of Saudis called Qahwa. You should not refuse it in anyway. Even if you don’t like it, just take a sip of it and put the cup on the table. If you will drink it fully, Saudi sitting near cattle will refill it. Qahwa is normally taken along with dates. We have already published a detailed article upon this subject which can be read in this link "Etiquette of drinking Arabic Qahwa"
- Don’t Wear Gold: In case you are wearing a gold chain around your neck, try not to make it too obvious. Also, try to avoid wearing gold bracelets. These are considered taboo by Saudis as they are supposed to be worn only by women. Wearing a gold ring is considered okay, and usually nobody will make a fuss about it. We have already published an article about this which can be read in this link "Wearing Gold in Saudi Arabia"
- Never discuss Politics and Religion: Never ever discuss the religion politics, monarchy, terrorism, security and such controversial issues with anyone in open. Don’t even discuss with your Saudi friends in isolation. These are extremely sensitive issues and you may have to face severe consequences due to your ignorance. Politics means politics involving Saudi Arabia. Yes, you can discuss about the politics of your country if it does not have any relationship with Saudi Arabia. They love football so it can be a good topic to discuss.
- Have Patience – Insha Allah: First lesson you should learn while entering to Saudi Arabia is to have patience. In Saudi Arabia, everything takes time to process. Even opening bank account may take several days. If someone says that he will complete a certain task by one week, just make a rough idea in your mind that he will complete it in two weeks. Patience is the basic thing you will have to learn if you want to live in this land for a longer time. Saudis normally say Insha Allah if you ask about the expected date of completion of task. It means “God’s will”. Recommended: Plz don’t get puzzled if Saudis say “Insha Allah”
- Sitting in Chair: While seated in a chair, avoid sitting cross-legged such that one of your shoes point at your hosts.
Etiquettes of Living in Saudi Arabia
- Etiquettes to follow in Elevators in Saudi Arabia
- Special Etiquettes of attending Meetings in Saudi Arabia
- Etiquettes of Drinking ZamZam Water
- Shopping Etiquette in Saudi Grocery Stores
- Email Etiquettes in Saudi Work Environment